Mini Reviews – February 2023 Part Two

Month is just about done and it’s time to catch up with some quick reviews from the end of February!

Thanks to the mentioned publishers for any gifted copies in exchange for my honest reviews

Mini Reviews – February 2023 Part Two:

THE BLACK GUY DIES FIRST: BLACK HORROR CINEMA FROM FODDER TO OSCAR – Robin R. Means Coleman, PhD and Mark H. Harris (Released February 7th, 2023 – Thanks to Saga Press for the gifted copy)

A definitive and surprising exploration of the history of Black horror films, after the rising success of Get Out, Candyman, and Lovecraft Country from creators behind the acclaimed documentary, Horror Noire.

The Black Guy Dies First explores the Black journey in modern horror cinema, from the fodder epitomized by Spider Baby to the Oscar-​winning cinematic heights of Get Out and beyond. This eye-opening book delves into the themes, tropes, and traits that have come to characterize Black roles in horror since 1968, a year in which race made national headlines in iconic moments from the enactment of the 1968 Civil Rights Act and Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in April. This timely book is a must-read for cinema and horror fans alike.

My Thoughts: 5/5 stars – I loved this book. Now, I don’t read much for nonfiction outside of true crime, but this is 100% the exception. The second I saw the title I immediately heard Jada Pinkett Smith in my mind from the beginning of Scream 2, “the horror genre is historical in excluding the African American element.” I learned a lot and can’t recommend this enough if you love the genre and want to know more about the history of Black horror. I now have to go on a horror movie spree this weekend.

SISTER, MAIDEN, MONSTER – Lucy A. Snyder (Released February 21st, 2023 – Thanks to Tor Nightfire for the gifted copy)

Sister, Maiden, Monster is a visceral story set in the aftermath of our planet’s disastrous transformation and told through the eyes of three women trying to survive the nightmare, from Bram Stoker Award-winning author Lucy A. Snyder.

To survive they must evolve.

A virus tears across the globe, transforming its victims in nightmarish ways. As the world collapses, dark forces pull a small group of women together.

Erin, once quiet and closeted, acquires an appetite for a woman and her brain. Why does forbidden fruit taste so good?

Savannah, a professional BDSM switch, discovers a new turn-on: committing brutal murders for her eldritch masters.

Mareva, plagued with chronic tumors, is too horrified to acknowledge her divine role in the coming apocalypse, and as her growths multiply, so too does her desperation.

Inspired by her Bram Stoker Award-winning story “Magdala Amygdala,” Lucy A. Snyder delivers a cosmic tale about the planet’s disastrous transformation … and what we become after.

My Thoughts: 4/5 stars – Upon finishing this, I’m still not quite sure what I read. BUT I definitely enjoyed whatever it is. You get all kinds of horror in this book – there’s a pandemic, cosmic horrors, then there’s all the gore and body horror. If you aren’t a fan of very visceral and grotesque body horror, then you might want to pass. If you like blood, guts, and a wild experience, then this is what you need in your life. I found a new author and can’t wait to see what else she has out.

VenCo – Cherie Dimaline (Released February 14th, 2023 – Thanks to William Morrow Books for the copy!)

From the bestselling author of Empire of Wild, a wickedly subversive, deliciously imaginative, deeply feminist novel of contemporary witches on the rise—a book that only the supremely gifted storyteller Cherie Dimaline could write.

Lucky St. James, orphaned daughter of a bad-ass Métis good-times girl, is barely hanging on to her nowhere life when she finds out that she and her grandmother, Stella, are about to be evicted from their apartment. Bad to worse in a heartbeat. Then one night, doing laundry in the building’s dank basement, Lucky feels an irresistible something calling to her. Crawling through a hidden hole in the wall, she finds a tarnished silver spoon depicting a story-book hag over letters that spell out S-A-L-E-M.

Which alerts Salem-born Meena Good, finder of a matching spoon, to Lucky’s existence. One of the most powerful witches in North America, Meena has been called to bring together seven special witches and seven special spoons—infused with magic and scattered to the four directions more than a century ago—to form a magic circle that will restore women to their rightful power. Under the wing of the international headhunting firm VenCo, devoted to placing exceptional women in roles where they can influence business, politics and the arts, Meena has spent years searching out witches hiding in plain sight wherever women gather: suburban book clubs, Mommy & Me groups, temp agencies. Lucky and her spoon are number six.

With only one more spoon to find, a very powerful adversary has Meena’s coven in his sights—Jay Christos, a roguish and deadly witch-hunter as old as witchcraft itself. As the clock ticks toward a now-or-never deadline, Meena sends Lucky and her grandmother on a dangerous, sometimes hilarious, road trip through the United States in search of the seventh spoon. The trail leads them at last to the darkly magical city of New Orleans, where Lucky’s final showdown with Jay Christos will determine whether the coven will be completed, ushering in a new beginning, or whether witches will be forced to remain forever underground.

My Thoughts: 5/5 stars – There was a review I saw on Goodreads that perfectly embodies this book – “Have you ever wanted to read a book reminiscent of The Golden Girls, but it’s a witchy scavenger hunt around the country for magical spoons?” I about died because that is the literal best way to describe this. Lucky and Stella were so much fun and who knew going around the country to find spoons could be a witchy thing.

This was more lighthearted than I anticipated and it worked so well. We even get a good villain in Jay Christos, the witch hunter, that’s keeping tabs on their every move. The cast of characters was diverse and well-developed, the setting was immersive, and I loved seeing how VenCo worked in plain sight for this network of witches.


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